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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Best Laid Plans

Are shot all to hell when I decide to break out the loom, let me tell you...

I swear, when I snagged the Weekend Chunky from the sale rack yesterday, I had so many other things on the agenda today. Including a much earlier blog post about something else. That, and yard work, dog walks, and not sitting on my ass in front of the loom dressing it (Doesn't that sound like I played with Barbies all day?)

Yet last night, I started winding a warp on my never before used warping board. Now there's new impetus to get that bitch mounted to the wall. How was using a dining room chair as a huge warping peg so much easier than doing it properly?

And speaking of proper. Next time I watch a video on proper warp winding and I think, "Do you really need to tie it off that much? Seems a bit like overkill to me." and watch a second video with some relaxed (she probably smoked out before filming) New Zealand chick who only tied off in three spots and decide to go with her way, I'm going got look back on to today, and tie a choke every six frigg'n inches.

However, I figured out how to use my raddle, and let me tell you, besides the initial fidgeting with her, I think she saved my life. Or maybe the Leclerc from a little conflagration. I know... I need to stop listening to period novels while cussing my heart out at my fiber past times, it gives me new big words to use. Okay, so it really just reminds me of nice big words to use. And maybe lets me be a bit more imaginative in said cursing.

When I was fighting getting the beater bar bolts loosened I believe I said something along the lines of it being "stuck like a cur's cock in a bitch". Luckily my own curs were all on a walk with their Papa Bob so they didn't feel the need to cower downstairs in fear.

However, I think my gold paint job did keep me happier than I would have been otherwise in a pink room, or a darkly painted room where I would have had to rely on other lighting to see things well, specifically the dents as I slayed the reed. To bad that isn't nearly as gruesome as it sounds, I may have felt better with some bloodshed.

Now I've an aching back, sore eyes, and full belly because Thank God The Guy fed me today as I didn't even bake the bread I had initially thought to bake today.

But alas, the loom has done been warped. For those non-weavers like The Guy, no, I didn't break down and damage the damn thing. That's the state the beastie is supposed to be in at the end of a 9+ hour fight to do exactly that. Yes dear ones. 9 hours and more. Why did I want to learn to weave again? This means that all the long threads that make of the warp of my finished fabric, are mounted, strung properly though their heddles and dents on the reed, tensioned, and ready to be woven with. Now it's time for some Advil, Downton Abbey, and some nice easy knitting. Hell, I might break out Fox Paws.

As for what all this is to be, we are in need of a real bath mat to go in front of the tub. We're yet to re-paint the bathroom, but here you can see some of the bright happy colors I'm thinking about. Hell, I'm almost ready to paint, and for those of you who know how much I hate to paint, you know how insane this project may have made me today.

I know. I just need practice. It's been well over a year since we moved here, meaning it's been probably 18 months since I've played on the loom in any way. And I have never warped a project over 60 ends. This one is 216 ends, meaning I jumped right into the deep end and deserved having my ass whooped by it. So I am off to watch some Downton and whimper and lick my wounds. Tomorrow however, I will wind some bobbins and dive in. Beware dear ones, beware.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Best Part about Easter...

Is using up left over ham. Of course, I guess the same can be said about Christmas. Ever wonder why those darn Christians have a thing for pig?

Anyway, I used up a chunk of ours making homemade Potato's Au Gratin. Nope, nothing came out of a box in these bad boys. Don't worry, we did have some salad.

For desert I might have some  more of my remaining "Nutella Heaven FuckYeah!" I know, I really need to find a better name for it, but that's the name the person who posted it to Ravelry gave it! I will think upon a new name though. But these are so good they almost deserve a name like this. It's a layer of Nutella sandwiched between delicious buttery short bread. Recipe? Sure...

4 Cups flour
1 1/3 Cup sugar
2 Cups butter

Seriously, for the shortbread that's it. Of course I threw in a splash of vanilla, some cinnamon and perhaps some pumpkin pie spice, but just a couple pinches to add a hint of other flavor. Whir it up in the food processor then let it sit for a few minutes. Grease a 9x13 pan and divide your shortbread "dough" though it's half way between a dough and cookie batter and press the first half out across the bottom of the pan. I took a bunch, probably a full cup and a half of Nutella, popped it in the microwave to get nice and thin for about 15 seconds and smeared it all over the top of the first layer. Then place it in the fridge to firm back up. Taking a piece of parchment paper and the other half of the dough, roll out the second half to approximately 9x13" and transfer from the parchment paper to the top of the Nutella. For the beginners here to using a rolling pin, place your pin on the short edge of the dough and gently roll the pin up the body of the dough allowing it to stay on the pin, slowly removing the parchment paper as you go. You should end up with a rolling pin surrounded by dough that you can then unroll across the top of your other two layers. Kind of push it out and about to the edges of the pan to cover all the Nutella, then bake at 300 degrees for approximately 30-35 minutes or until turning gold. If your oven sucks like mine, it may be closer to 45 mins. Just saying.

Now, for those experienced shortbread fiends like myself (and why do I love shortbread but despise sugar cookies?), you know shortbread has to be cut while warm and fresh because if you try to cut it later it will just crumble and break. Take a sharp knife and cut small squares out and continue letting to cool. Later it will still stick to itself but the cuts you placed now will act like score marks and allow it to break at those lines.

Now, go eat it! Wasn't quite the brownies I wanted, but DDDDdddddaaaaaaauuuuuuuummm. To boot, the guy doesn't care for it. More for me!

Also, I think this is a new easter tradition for us. Yep, that's Cinnamon bread. I was trying it out to make for when my brother and his Scrotum Rats are here this summer. I wanted to see how it did.

As french toast. Since we had to make this again this week with the second loaf, I think it's a win.

Speaking of Easter, I had a day off last week and had the boys all to myself so we went on a walk at the new park I found.

It's the Cascade Peace Park and has a nice three mile loop to walk that includes some nice hills and lots of woods.

I first went there a couple weeks back and took the big camera with me, but about half way through the walk I finally looked at the text the LCD display kept flashing at me and saw that I forgot to put the memory card back in the camera after pulling photos from it. Lovely...

I have since found in settings where the camera won't let the shutter operate without a memory card so I can't manage to screw up quite that bad again. I really shouldn't say that, i'm just putting a challenge out there for myself, and I love a challenge.

However, last weekend I didn't even take the camera with me and just had my phone so I snapped these as the moss started to green up as spring had started to creep in.

Here's some mushrooms on these old logs just for you Betsy.

It's really a nice park though somewhat devoid of wold life, and I can't wait to see what it looks like as Spring continues to green it up. This weekend we didn't go simply because we got hammered by rain storms on Wednesday night all the way through Friday morning and all the local trails are pretty sloppy.

But all seasons have opportunities to see neat things. This trees surface was so neat, I just had to take a shot. How it's aged makes me think of how a log starts to crack in a fire place.

And this one that looks like it's collapsing on itself.

It kind of amazes me how many local species of trees hold onto their leaves through most of the winter. The oaks do it as well, but I always love how delicate these ones look.

When I first saw this I thought it was possibly an old blackberry bramble that had leaves fall on it in a way it caused it to become almost circular. Then as I got closer I realized it's an old section of the fencing they had removed from around the area when they made it a park and it was rusting barbed wire. Don't worry, I've had my tetanus shots...

I'm assuming since the birds have left these alone too, that they must be fairly poisonous. Anyone want to try them out?

When I was getting a closer look at the fence I glanced down and saw this little log and I loved the little tendrils of creeping moss, Made me think of some of that organic framework I've seen done. So next week, I hope to return to the park to get pictures to compare what some rain and warmer weather does.

As it is, around the house we can tell that spring is in the process of springing out everywhere!

This is always a good sign. Ahh, how I've missed the smell of it too. Se those little flowers on the maple branches hanging down?!? Whirligigs are coming!

And the sounds! You can see the remnant of our front yard pond form our storms the other night. Had I not been listening for a change in the wind that might urge me to gather the guy androids to go downstairs I might have thought to grab a camera and get video of the amazing rain and lightening show we were being given. The rain hitting the house is actually what woke me up and the light show was spectacular.

If it's not the birds calling, it's these guys already out and singing. You might have to turn up your volume a bit to hear them though. They're a bit more subtle than the birds. Until the sun goes down around here anyway.

As far as life around here, it goes on. The boys are slowly learning to deal with the chickens. Tucker is getting braver about them and actually investigates them now.

Emmitt... Well, you still have to keep an eye on them as he thinks they are chicken nuggets on the wing as it may be. However, One of them ran right up to him today and he stayed put and left her alone. Those dang girls. We need new pictures as they are much more feathered than when these were taken earlier in the week, It's a bit amazing how fast they grow up! I'll snap one tonight to share later.

Sullivan made a return appearance at the yarn shop this last week. I decided it was time for him to go back after the bus loads of little old lady asian tourists traumatized him last fall. Who can blame him? I would be traumatized to if some lady who was barely taller than I, grabbed me by the cheeks, stuck her face in mine and screeched like a maniac. I'm just glad he didn't bite her in the face. As you can see, he got the gist of things quickly and acted appropriately.

Better watch out Emmitt, you job as shop dog might be taken away.

And while we're on that subject, is there a reason you feel you must lay on my pillow? Especially after laying around on grubby floors and eating chicken poo? Wee Heathen.

That't allright, because is there a better way to wake up on ones birthday? Well, maybe with the less stinky side facing my way perhaps. Chicken poo does little for gassy bums, just let me tell you.

Today we went to Horrocks. Holy crap, I'm in love. A grocery store, nursery/garden shop that I can go in, get a pint pulled off the tap, then wonder around and do my shopping while sipping said tap! I am not kidding people. It's like a garden of eden in Grand Rapids. I picked up a spider plant to replace the one that died... I know, how does someone kill a spider plant? Shortly after coming home and being put into a new pot a friend and her dog came over. I have no idea what the dog dod while were in the next room but we came back in to find both new plants on the floor, the tv cabinet completely tossed around and the dog flipping out (This is why herding dogs need regularly exercise. If you keep them in a crate all day and not get them out, all that energy drives them f'n nuts!). The plant took a couple weeks to whither and die so my best guess is that when it got knocked flying it broke the main connection to it's roots and couldn't pull up enough water. Just a guess. See the vine (I forget these things real names, sorry) behind that spider plant? It was bought the same day and repotted and is now all the way to the floor and thriving as it should. We also got the neat Bio-Bamboo pots. They will slowly decompose but I liked them.

This one has the acorns I finally pulled out of the fridge as they were sprouting and planted them. With any luck I'll have four oak seedlings, a chestnut seedling that you can see, still looks a bit too much like a pot plant there but is slowly growing, and our dogwoods from the arbor day foundation planted among the yard this year. Slowly, we'll get less grass to mow...

And I saw this neat little guy while perusing plants and pots. He didn't want to stick around for photos though. I also saw a monarch caterpillar while we had the girls out for some yard time today. Don't worry, he got away from the little beasties.

Now, off to enjoy a Sunday the way it should be. A pot of tea, a good book, and yarn.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

For those of you who missed it...

Don't worry, I took some pictures for you. "Of what?" I hear you ask. Don't you worry, me and this spring robin heralded in the dawn together all the while thinking of you.

I was thinking, "Why am I freezing my tookus off while all you sleep in your cozy beds this morning?"Then I sat there in the rising sun with bird song around me while capturing this, and all thoughts about being cold kind of slipped my mind. For a few minutes anyway.

Granted, most of you that read this are 2-4 hours behind us in time, so it was anywhere between 230 and 430 in the morning and the moon be that much further east, even had you gotten up, you couldn't see it. So I guess it was worth it.

This was the third in a tetrad of luna eclipses that started in April of 2014. I saw the one in September while walking the boys one early morning in the dark. I only had my phone with me and wasn't able to get a good picture. It was the first lunar eclipse I've ever seen in person. The final one of this series is on September 28th. I don't know if it's visible form here, let me go see...

Well, if you go HERE, you can see where the lunar event will be viewable from. Us here in Michigan, if we have a clear night should get a good view with totality occurring just before 1130. Fingers crossed!

So, all of these next pictures will just be the eclipse in sequence as I took them. I kept playing with my camera settings, but alas, I'm not a professional. I'll try to learn more before the next one.

I snapped this one off zoom trying to show how close the Belt of Venus was following after the moon as sunrise was catching up to the eclipse. What's the belt of venus? Ever notice in the sky at dawn or sunset when the sun is just below the horizon, on the opposite horizon (must be clear sky's to see this so you Wyomingites will have better luck with this one) that transition from bank and purple sky's, to deep indigo? That transition line is the bet and show the shadow of earth on the surrounding atmosphere. So in this picture, up where that bird is in the frame, is where the sun's light is starting to illuminate the upper atmosphere and any high clouds or dust and making it pinkish, but the moon is still in the shadow itself.

This was as close to totality as we got here before it dipped below the horizon. As it was, you can see the sun was chasing it pretty closely by this point anyway and would have hidden the eclipse had it been any later.

Then, since I was up, and there was this beautiful dawn light, I had to keep taking photos, right?

As I was trying to get better pictures and wondering through the neighbors corn field, I noticed this group of deer and a lone crane. That's right, the birds are back in town as you could here on the first video.

This I think is the Mom and two babies that were fawns last year that we had around are place. Of the group of 8 or so deer that have been hanging around, they were the most relaxed about my presence though they didn't let me get too close. But the did stick around in the field longer than any of the others.

Like I said, cornfields. But I thought it was a neat picture.

As the sun kept creeping up, I kept hearing turkey's sobbing so I decided to see if I could find them.

So, as the Guy was out with the Boys for their morning walk, I was getting a little hike through the fields.

I didn't find the turkeys, but I think they were hiding in the woods still. Waiting for full light to come out into the fields.

But I kept walking and snapping pictures as the sun kept rising.

And look what I found!

The picture is a bit grainy because I was zoomed way up on them. They were in a shady part of the field picking at the ground and wandering around a bit.

When I saw them I stopped. They seemed aware that I was there and not to worried since I was keeping my distance, but something caught their attention on the far side of them and they decided they didn't  like it one bit. I did snap some more pictures, but they were singing and calling as they flew, and my main priority was to get that. Let's just say, there was some fast fumbling of the camera.

In the summers, that sound is often how I wake up. Love it!

I have to say, moving here to Michigan has been an educational experience when it comes to learning about the local birds and other wildlife.

There always seems to be a new critter to see, whether it's a bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, or insect.

After I got the cranes I gave up on finding the turkeys for the day. But only for today mind you. I will find some to get pictures of.

On the way back, I just enjoyed that golden dawn light.

Even got a "Self Portrait" in. Or as close as I was going to get with my shadow.

Our own house isn't on the lake, but there is a lake that lays to the west that was between myself an the eclipse. I cropped it out of many of the pictures because in the dark, the houses for some reason looked like I was in a trailer park.

As you can see here, it isn't a trailer park, but for some reason in the dark it looked like it. Some of the homes are actually quite large and nice but the distance from them, and that cell tower that I also cropped and smudged out of the lunar shots gives it a certain look. Here to I was trying to snap a picture of some mallards that zoomed by, and caught them flying past two oncoming geese.

The geese in the sun were quite beautiful.

With the return of the birds, plants are starting to come back too. This looks a lot like lamb's ear that I'm used to seeing in Wyoming. Greening up despite the morning frosts still.

I was enjoying how the early morning light was illuminating the old corn rows here when the Guy and the boys were heading back into the drive way here. Let me be honest, I just have a thing for corn rows. Don't ask, I don't know, but I always have. I want to go to a corn maze so bad... This year, I swear. Think they have any adult only ones, or adult only times at any local mazes? Damn noisy kids.

And my ever favorite redwing blackbirds are back. As I type this out now I can hear them bedding down in the pines in the backyard. I love their odd calls and spunky demeanor. 

I just liked the colors in this shot.

Then a dove was hanging out in our from maple tree as I was coming in. To bad the camera focused on the beaches and my hands were to cold to fuss with turning it to manual focus and getting off a shot. The zoom made this picture look darker than it was too. Sun as up, and this still looks like early dawn skies.

This afternoon I snapped these shots from the garden as spring sunshine wakes it up.

Last weekend I tried to snap a shot of the fields to the north as the early morning sun illuminated the neighbors that way's barn and silos. I could only see it well fro the bathroom window though and the camera didn't want to play well with the window screen and I wasn't dressed yet to track out that way with the camera.

If you look close you can see the buds and early blooms of the maple as it primes for the season. These are one of those maples that just as it gets fully leafed out, it drops it's whirly-gig seed pods. I kind of like them though they bury dog poop and you step in it... Ahh life, it's all about the trade off's.

Speaking of, how about early morning sun bathing? These guys love it.

These are a couple of old pictures I just happened to pull off the camera while getting this morning's shots. I just like the character of them though they are not the best shots.

I also finished up this harm this last week. It's fractal spun, can you tell? What is fractal spun you non-spinners ask? See how the colors march out in each line of the bobbin on the left? Those are nice short color ways that repeat in quick bursts of colors. The one on the right has much longer color ways bleed into each other.

You make this work out like this by how you split up your pre-died fiber. Why do this? Because when you do this, it assures that your colors always pair up with each other atlas once, typically more, and have less color pooling than you would otherwise.

Well, that's about all I have for tonight, but I do have more pictures I took on our walk at the Peace Park yesterday, so you will probably see pictures again later this week for me. 

But before I go, Sullivan and Scarlet say "Happy Easter". And don't forget the Jesus Juice...